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O'Brien, Safavieh think big.

NEW YORK -- Eighteen months in business together, Safavieh and designer Thomas O'Brien are still smiling.

In this time, O'Brien's collection with Safavieh has grown to nine styles and 17 area rugs, and both parties intend for the collaboration to keep growing.

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Just in time for the summer markets, Arash Yaraghi, co-principal of Safavieh, said the line is expanding again for the very simple reason of it having been "very well received."

"I think, for our industry, there needs not just to be a label," Yaraghi said of licensed rugs bearing designers' names. "There must also be a level of authority in terms of taste and style."

O'Brien's work for Safavieh has brought new takes on textiles-based patterns to the company's assortment. These additions include spare, branchy florals akin to vintage Japanese prints; feathery batik medallions; and a range of Moroccan-inspired stripes and diamond grids. The designer's use of a subtle yet striking palette--which incorporates blues, golds, soft greens, dusky earth tones and dark chocolate accents--joins these patterns to create an atmosphere of livable elegance and a look that is distinctly O'Brien.

"My job seems to be about making traditional things modern," O'Brien said, adding that his own passions have long guided his designs and their ability to cross categories. "I'm collecting stuff all the time," he said. "It's insane. Dishes become textiles and textiles become dishes."

In the case of his work with Safavieh, some of the patterns are reappearing or finding complementary partners in O'Brien's textiles at Lee Jofa.

O'Brien's new designs mesh with the Moroccan motifs of his earlier designs, while adding inspiration from other sources.

For his latest Safavieh grouping, O'Brien turned to a 1920s studio book of pottery patterns, a journey that has brought a variety of trellises, bands and grids to his new designs.

The look of these pieces has involved inflating the scale of the diminutive patterns intended for the original ceramics to more generous proportions for the area rugs.

"When you look at these rugs, there are elements that are contemporary," Yaraghi said. "But the way the rug is composed, you get the traditional value."

O'Brien said the new pieces actually took the joint platform of "more color and more tonal," noting that the tonal look has been popular among design showrooms.

As his creative eye drifts to what will come next, O'Brien said one factor holds true for all his rug designs.

"I just want them each to be designs I really like," he said. "They're like little paintings to me."
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Title Annotation:the markets: floor covering
Author:Quail, Jennifer
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Date:Jun 25, 2007
Words:421
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